I know I’m usually categorically opposed to saying this, but we have to make exceptions sometimes. Allez les bleus! When France made it to the final, we rearranged our tentative Zurich plans to do another weekend in France. We celebrated in Italy in 2006 when the Azzurri won the World Cup, and it was an absolute blast, so we wanted to keep it going this year in France. We are happy to report that the #craleabump hits again as we are now two for two for watching the (Men’s) World Cup final in the country of the winners. We’re definitely accepting offers from future World Cup finalists to have us cheer with their fans as we are sure this is 100% due to our presence in France and not the hard work of the team.
As with most things from this past weekend, it was a bit of an adventure getting to the fan zone in Riedisheim. We logged 12 miles of walking today and while some of that was from touring Colmar and Mulhouse, a pretty substantial part of it can be attributed to trying to find the fan zone in the Mulhouse area and slogging through hills, wilderness and some rain to get there. We made it in the end and, despite the periods of rain and the eventual thunderstorms, it was absolutely worth it.
In any case, we made it to the viewing area a few minutes into the game after walking from the center of Mulhouse to the fan zone in Riedisheim, which is the next village over. My “follow the flags” mantra we were using to try to find the public viewing areas almost veered us the wrong way a few times to very crowded sports bars, but eventually did get us to the right place, despite the long stretches of empty streets.
We were both leaning towards Croatia because it’s always cool to see a first time World Cup winner, but the atmosphere was absolutely infectious so it was hard not to cheer along with the fans in the crowd.
It periodically poured, which is an experience we’re familiar with from some previous Earthquakes experiences, such as the Great Deluge of 2011 (real thing; home opener against RSL). I was mostly concerned about the electronics, which appear to have made it back all right. It wasn’t until the lightening started that we decided we may want to start heading out. While this was minute 93 and we were pretty sure that absent some major screw ups, France was going to win, it meant that we missed seeing the crowd’s reactions when the game ended. We heard it, though. We certainly heard it. And saw all of the cars honking as they drove past us on our walk back to the train station in the pouring rain. Had it not been pouring, we probably would have stayed around a little while to watch the celebrations, but we were really mostly onlookers at the end of the day.
All in all, even though neither the USMNT nor the Azzurri qualified, this year’s tournament was an absolute roller coaster. There were a lot of shocking results, including that exhilarating game between South Korea and Germany, and it all ended in that high scoring final. France was a fun team to watch throughout the tournament, so it was perfect to close out the World Cup in France in such a memorable way. There were some sacrifices made along the way, including my Kleen Kanteen (which they forced me to throw away and not just hide in the bushes to find later) and our can of Pringles from lunch. Our umbrella may have also broken, but we’re trying to fix that.
Congrats, France! We’ll be back for the Women’s World Cup next year.